Your Broadway ticket doesn’t include a free meet-and-greet

Sweeney Todd on Broadway
Sweeney Todd on Broadway

As crowds at stage doors on Broadway and in the West End get ever bigger, some fans need to get a grip on their entitled attitude.

Currently starring in Sweeney Todd on Broadway, this week saw Joe Locke respond to a fan who branded the actor “rude” for failing to take pictures and sign autographs after a performance.

The Heartstopper star wrote on Instagram: “as much as I would love to meet everyone and stage door every night-the show is just so exhausting, I need to conserve my energy to be able to do my job to the best of my ability.

“I am very grateful for everyone who comes to watch. I will stage door again, but I can’t guarantee when or if I do on a given day. I hope you enjoyed the show, and I hope you can understand why I may not stage door every night.”

Joe is of course spot on, and it seems as though in recent years stage dooring has become more and more out of control.

Joe Locke

For those unaware, stage dooring is the practice of waiting outside a theatre’s stage door for actors to emerge in hopes of securing autographs, photographs, or a moment of conversation.

For fans, it can be an opportunity to express their appreciation directly to the actors whose performances have moved, entertained, or inspired them.

Actors, too, often appreciate the direct feedback and love from their audience. Many performers cite stage dooring as a reminder of why they do what they do.

However, fans need to remember that there’s zero obligation on actors to appear after the show.

After giving their all on stage, they are expected to meet fans with energy and enthusiasm, regardless of how exhausted or emotionally drained they may be.

This pressure to essentially continue to perform can be particularly challenging during lengthy runs or on days with multiple performances.

And while social media has made theatre more accessible to a wider audience, it has also forced actors to be constantly “on,” as any interaction is potentially subject to being shared widely online.

Stage dooring is not part of their contract or in the price paid for a ticket.

The entitlement shown by some theatre fans has become truly shocking.

There’s no chance of Taylor Swift taking selfies with everyone after her concerts, or for Margot Robbie to wait at the door of a screening of Barbie. Why do some feel an obligation that those starring on Broadway or in the West End be at their beck and call?

Ultimately, fans need to learn to approach stage dooring with consideration for the performers’ well-being, recognising that actors may not always be able to engage.

Perhaps they’re feeling under the weather, have an appointment to get to, or are simply not in the mood. Whatever the reason, they don’t owe any explanation – and certainly don’t deserve hate on social media.

A picture or autograph at the stage door needs to be seen as a potential bonus of going to the theatre, not an expectation.

About the author: Josh Darvill

Josh is Stageberry's editor with over five years of experience writing about theatre in the West End and across the UK. Prior to following his passion for musicals, he worked for more than a decade as a TV journalist.